You will have heard by now that a major vulnerability in the OpenSSL library was just made public. Called Heartbleed, it affects the security of a huge number of cloud services and sites as well as various products, like operating systems and apps, which have employed it during the past two years. The impact can be devastating, as there is no way of telling if Heartbleed was exploited, or how much data may have been stolen so far.
A number of companies have already announced the patching of their OpenSSL-toting services and products. Google was among the first to do so, yesterday. Evernote, however, just revealed that its users are not affected. Microsoft has also decided to shed light on whether Heartbleed impacts its users, saying that Windows Azure, Microsoft account, and Windows are immune.
After announcing the upcoming rebranding of Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure, the software giant has revealed its cloud platform is now broadly available in China. 21Vianet is responsible for the operation in the local Asian market.
"This significant milestone makes us the first global company to make onshore public cloud services available to customers in China", says Microsoft corporate vice president of Cloud & Enterprise Marketing Takeshi Numoto. Microsoft Azure has been available to local customers since June 6, last year, but only as a public preview.
You likely haven't made it this far in life without learning about prime numbers, as they are one of the fundamentals of mathematics. They are also a big part of the technology world, being used for encryption. You may not think about them everyday, but there are people out there who do, and now you can be one of them.
Microsoft is introducing the Prime Challenge, a contest to find the undiscovered prime numbers, of which there likely are quite a lot, though nobody can really say how many. "The challenge is open to all; everyone is encouraged to try and find a 'lost prime'. To enter the challenge just go to www.primechallenge.org and follow the instructions online", says Microsoft.
When thinking of personal radio, services such as Pandora, Rdio, Spotify and others come to mind. Windows Azure is not a part of this word association game, but the Microsoft service is capable of powering such apps for mobile platforms, and works with Windows Phone, iPhone and Android.
Now Long Zheng, formerly of the ChevronWP7 team, has announced his startup 121Cast is releasing Omny -- which the company hopes will change the way people use their mobile devices for music, email, news and more. "I know the word 'revolutionize' is very much a cliché for tech startups but I do think we've come up with an easier, more interactive, and all around better way for the busy mobile individual to listen to news, entertainment, music and important updates on the go", Zheng states. "Omny expands on that idea [SoundGecko] to provide a more diverse range of content such as professional radio shows, podcasts and music through Spotify, Rdio, Songl and iTunes", he continues.
During day two's keynote at the Microsoft Build 2013 developer conference, Server and Tools Business President Satya Nadella talked about the SaaS (Software as a Service) applications Microsoft runs.
In particular he focused on the scale and diversity of the company’s daily work in the cloud, while a "Battle Tested" slide displayed the all-important numbers for Xbox Live, Skype, Outlook.com, Office 365, SkyDrive and Bing.
In an effort to beef up the security of its cloud platform, late-yesterday, Microsoft introduced two-step authentication for Windows Azure. The new feature is available through a service called Active Authentication and, according to the software giant, is mostly aimed at enterprises.
"Companies can enable multi-factor authentication for Windows Azure Active Directory identities to help secure access to Office 365, Windows Azure, Windows Intune, Dynamics CRM Online and many other apps that are integrated with Windows Azure AD", says Windows Azure director Sarah Fender. "Developers can also use the Active Authentication SDK to build multi-factor authentication into their custom applications and directories".
Windows Azure undergoes constant improvements as Microsoft continues to beef up the cloud platform with new features and enhancements. The software giant has released SDK 2.0 for .NET (Software Development Kit), introduced Hadoop, Dropbox and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) support, new VM (Virtual Machine) configurations and adopted a new pricing strategy, all within the past couple of months.
And, late-yesterday, Microsoft revealed a new update for Windows Azure, designed to enhance its development and testing credentials. There are two noteworthy changes aimed at minimizing cost: users are now billed by the minute when using the cloud platform's resources (instead of by the hour, prior to the update) and they are no longer charged for stopped VMs (the deployment state and configuration are both preserved).
Some of Microsoft's greatest battles aren't being fought in the open, contentious field of constant public opinion and media coverage. If there's one thing Microsoft has always done better than the competition, it's blowing open new areas of opportunity and running with the ball on the sly. Apple and Samsung can keep their tactical flags limited to consumer electronics; Microsoft has far greater potential as a rising star in the cloud arena. The war started with its drive to push email to the cloud with Office 365, and the next leg of battle sits in the helm of Windows Azure and XaaS dominance.
If you're under the impression that we are not yet in the era of massive, prevalent 'big data', you're wildly mistaken. Our data needs are already climbing to astronomical levels, with IBM stating that 90 percent of the data in existence today was created in just the last two years. Not surprisingly, much of these growing data needs are being tossed into virtual environments whether it be on-premise in a VMWare or Hyper-V driven route, or my personal favorite: cloud-hosted virtual machines.
Microsoft is on an update streak with Windows Azure, introducing significant new features at a steady pace. For the past couple of months we have witnessed an overwhelming number of changes meant to improve the company's cloud platform, including the Iaas (Infrastructure as a Service) support announced two weeks ago.
Microsoft's latest move in this never-ending chess game with its rivals is the Windows Azure SDK (Software Development Kit) 2.0 for .NET which now features improvements for websites, cloud services, storage, service bus and PowerShell automation. Let's take a look at what's new.
Microsoft has announced the general availability of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) support for Windows Azure. The software giant also unveiled a couple of new features for IaaS meant to beef up the company's cloud platform. Timing is interesting --Amazon's AWS (Amazon Web Services) Summit kicks off in New York tomorrow.
Windows Azure's IaaS support introduces the Virtual Machine and Virtual Network features, and "is now live in production, backed by an enterprise SLA, supported by Microsoft Support, and is ready to use for production apps", according to Microsoft's Scott Guthrie.
Microsoft knows something about cool codenames, but little on how to name actual products. Whistler, Longhorn, Cougar, Blackcomb, Vienna and even Blue all sound great, resounding and promising, but that impression goes away fast when Microsoft baptizes its creations: XP, Vista or 7. The guy with the cool names went on a bathroom break, and all the boring suits took over.
That's the very same impression I get after reading about Microsoft's "Looking Back and Springing Ahead" blog post, which touts a number of apparently impressive achievements and future plans that the company has. Lo and behold, there's even a strategy in place to raise the pace for "updates and innovations" -- that's the "new normal across Microsoft", according to the company. But then I notice the Windows Blue reference.
Microsoft's ongoing process to improve the company's cloud platform, Windows Azure, has reached a new phase. The software giant has, yet again, introduced a number of new features for Windows Azure, including the HDInsight service for Hadoop clusters, support for Dropbox deployment and Mercurial repositories, as well as enhancements to Mobile Services.
On Tuesday, Microsoft detailed another update addressed to Windows Azure, the software giant's cloud platform, aimed at fending off the attack from Amazon S3, Google Cloud Platform and other major competitors. One of the most noteworthy new features is support for developing native Android Apps in Windows Azure Mobile Services.
Microsoft has released the Android Client SDK (Software Development Kit) through GitHub, under the Apache 2.0 license. Windows Azure Mobile Services also features support for Android push notifications, which can be enabled by registering for Google Cloud Messaging, getting the API key and pasting it in the corresponding "Push" tab.
Just last week Microsoft began rolling out the Azure service in 25 new markets around the world, but the updates have continued today as Microsoft continues to move forward in its competition with services like Amazon S3, Google Cloud Platform and others. Today the company's Azure Director, Alex Simons, announces updates to the identity and access management capabilities in Windows Azure.
The service gains three new features -- the ability to manage users and their access rights in the Windows Azure Portal; preview of the new phone based two factor authentication for users who are Global Administrators in Windows Azure AD; and the ability to manage the synchronization and federation between your Windows Azure Active Directory and Windows Server Active Directory from within the Windows Azure Portal.
On Wednesday, Microsoft announced a new update for Windows Azure, the company's cloud platform. Windows Azure Store now comes with expanded availability within 25 new locations across all major regions. This brings the tally up to 36 markets, a significant increase over the previous 11 from little over two months ago when the software giant announced a similar update.
The Windows Azure Store is designed to allow users to discover, purchase and manage services and data straight from the cloud platform's management portal. The feature was previously only available in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and United States.